Aaron Keysor Sosay–or So$ay, as he goes by artistically–is a Santa Cruz producer and DJ who knows what he wants. After releasing a string of singles, last week he dropped his debut EP, Low End Landscape. While So$ay is steeped in bass culture, Low End finds the artist exploring a wide range–or landscape, if you will, hehe–of music and sounds. Hip hop, glitch hop, and more make up the auditory view that rides the boarder between catchy and introspective. We were able to get an email interview with him about who he is, how he came to make Low End Landscape, and what we can look forward to from him in the near future.
How long have you been making music and what influenced you to start?
SO$AY: I have always had a passion for music and I consider myself to have pretty good taste when it comes to track selection. One thing I love about performing onstage is having the being able to cultivate the vibe and take the crowd on a journey of sorts. You gotta be able to read the energy of the crowd and figure out on the fly which way to steer the music. A “choose your own adventure” type of thing. I have always had a vision of what I wanted to create, but DJing was much harder than I thought it would be, especially without using what I call a safety net. That refers to auto sync or others means to have the computer do the beat matching for you. I never use this. It’s kind of like this: There are two tightrope walkers, each with their own tightrope stretched across the Grand Canyon. One has a safety net underneath them; the other has no net and would surely die if they fall. They both make it across. Which one is the more impressive feat? That’s how I feel about DJing. Being that there are so many out there, I didn’t want to be “just another DJ”. I wanted to set myself apart so I thought it was important to make my own tunes. It’s fairly easy to make a beat, but it’s incredibly difficult to make a full track that’s good. That’s what I’ve been trying to do now for about the last 4.5 years.
How long have you lived in Santa Cruz and how has the city or scene affected your music
I’ve lived in SC for about 8 years total. When I was younger I lived here for about 4 years but this time around 6-7 moved away for a while but ended up moving back. It’s a helluva town. Expensive , but a helluva town. A Beautiful environment and chill vibe without the hustle and bustle of the city is really conducive to making music. That might be one of the reasons why there are a lot of producers that live here.
As far as I can tell, “Low End Landscape” appears to be your first, multiple track EP, despite dropping many singles. What made you decide to drop an EP this time?
I think it’s just the natural progression in the evolution of an artist. It requires a couple things – a little bit more vision to see the EP as a whole work instead of just individual components. It brings it all together as a finished product that delivers a representation of what Sosay is about and sounds like. I also use it as a tool of sorts to launch myself and my music career. More exposure equals more chances to be in front of–or in– the ears of peeps who are dig my style. Hopefully turn a couple heads along the way too. That’s the goal anyway. Half the battle is getting heard. Not just heard, but being heard by the right people .
What does “Low End Landscape” mean to you?
In a visual sense, I kind of view it – like low end implies there’s bass- the low end of the frequency. But the low end landscape I view as I’m your tour guide through this dark grimy wasteland – landscape like a patchwork of different terrains. I feel this EP is pretty diverse yet has cohesion overall. Its not just a playlist. It has an overall vibe which is important to portray without a neon blinking sign. The Low End Landscape is an alternate dimension that’s kind of menacing – Mordor meets the Matrix with some Salvador Dali-esqu imagery. It takes you on a journey but instead of using a visual medium, it uses an auditory one.
The EP has a wide mix of hip hop samples, glitch hop, bass and more. Was that a conscious decision or just the product of messing around in the studio? What is your writing process like?
+I kind of go where the track takes me. I have a general idea of what I want to do and take an element that I like and just go with that. I usually I start with the drums because it is the foundation of the track and you have to have that solid before you go forward. Trying to do something else first and then come back to the drums is kind of challenging because they are the blueprint and the concrete. So if the drums suck, the track will suck .
If you could collaborate with one artist, who would it be and why?
Just one artist? That’s kind of a tough one… In the history of all mankind, I would probably say, just for the outrageousness of it, I’d probably work with Beethoven or someone like that because it would be just so crazy. But for the more realistic modern take from my era some of the producers I look up to like J Dilla, Dr Dre, any of those super elite producers – and from the electronic community, Lorn, Eprom, or Mr. Carmack,
What’s been your favorite club gig? Your favorite festival show you’ve played?
One that stands out is one of my first ones actually. It was at the Bordello. For those that don’t know, the Bordello is this old Winchester mystery type house speakeasy sort of thing with legendary underground parties- Shout out to Christian ! This was one of the first time I ever slayed a dance floor. It was out of control. People were dripping from the ceiling. I had more people in the room I was playing in than the headliner in the other room.
AS far as festivals go, I’d say this year at Raindance . I got a 530 am time slot, which at first I was a little nervous about because it could go two different ways-The vibe could still be hyphy with the people still in party mode so you play bangers and such, or it could go the other way and be super chill and mellow as people are winding down. It ended up being perfect. A bit of both and it was a beautiful morning. The whole squad was there so that made it even more special. Definitely one of my most fun sets ever where I was really able to curate the vibe.
Who are you currently listening to?
Well I’m always digging for new tunes for DJ sets but I don’t always like to listen to the shit I play because it gets a bit monotonous. I tend to get sick of the tracks after a while if I’m listening to them when I’m driving, practicing for shows, and working. But some of my favorites right now are Ivy Lab, Schoolboy Q, Eprom, Hucci, Kendrick Lamar, A$AP Rocky, Mr. Carmack, and always go back to the classics of hip hop and gangsta rap circa 1992 – 2005.
Name one artist that makes your ears bleed.
I try and stay positive and not knock others’ art, but if I have to pick something, it would have to be whack rappers. I can’t stand whack rappers. It’s astonishing that these dudes get to such a level of notoriety when they are straight garbage. If Tupac and biggie were alive today they would eat these fools alive.
With 2016 coming to a close, what do you have in store for us in 2017?
I’ve got a couple more shows before bringing 2016 to a close. Trap City @ 1015 Folsom on 11.11 is gonna be big. Ending the year with a show in Salt Lake City with the homie, VNDMG, on the Dec. 23rd. It’s become a bit of a tradition and shit always pops off. In 2017 expect to hear a ton of new music, more collaboration, and another solo EP by years end. There’s a HIGH NOON EP or compilation in the works. I’ve already got some festival bookings for the summer. I’ll have a track on the new Shadow Trix compilation as well as the upcoming WE GOT THIS compilation, which should be dropping soon. It looks to be a big year and I can’t wait!